Why Don't Parents Hire Lawyers for Their Kids?
As I was thinking about this conclusion, it struck me that, in the county where I practice, virtually none of the juveniles accused of crimes are represented by hired counsel. As juveniles, they are all presumed indigent, and entitled to be represented by my office. But, just like an adult defendant, they have the right to hire private counsel if they choose. As children, it's highly unlikely they'd be capable of retaining an attorney on their own, so if private counsel is employed, it is because their parents have chosen to pay the money to do so.
Many of my clients come from poor families, those whom I would classify as truly indigent, and not marginally indigent. But, there are quite a few that come from middle class families as well. Certainly, many of these parents could marshal the resources to hire a private attorney. And yet, except on very rare occasions, they choose not to. Why? Is it because these parents don't care about their children's cases as much as they would care about their own? That they don't think whatever consequences their child might receive from the juvenile system are severe enough to merit laying out the money for an attorney? That they don't believe in their children's innocence? Or are they simply more willing to trust a public defender to do the best job that can be done than they would be if it were themselves standing accused?
I am not a parent. But I often hear parents say that they would sacrifice their lives for their children--that they would do anything to protect their children, no matter the personal consequence. But when it comes to their children being threatened with sanctions in the criminal justice system, that doesn't seem to be the case. At least not in the county where I practice. Or, maybe it says something about the children that end up in the juvenile justice system. Is it possible that a good percentage of the kids who end up in the juvenile system have parents who aren't so self-sacrificing? That they aren't the parents who would do anything to protect their children, no matter the personal consequence?
I think I do a very good job for my clients. And I like to believe that I get them just as good results as they would get if they hired a private attorney. But, if the prevailing viewpoint in society is that public defenders don't do as good a job as hired attorneys, why do so many parents entrust their children to me, instead of doing whatever it takes to pay a private lawyer to stand up for the rights of their children?